Teaching Photography

This week I have the opportunity to teach a class of my choice at school. I’m teaching photography to sixth graders. We’re using digital point-and-shoot cameras. In one class, the students must share a camera, but in the other two classes, the students get solo use of their camera.

I specifically invited one student (who isn’t normally in my classroom) to take my class. I invited him because he makes me crazy, and I’m so glad I did, because he is one of the few students who seems to have an “eye.”

I think most of the students thought they’d end up getting to play with photos and the kid-friendly photo-editing software we have. They seemed to be expection manipulation, distortion, crazy colors and slide shows. Instead, they learned about framing, composition, and holding the camera correctly. Then we went outside and focused on composition. Tomorrow it’s a color search. Thursday is texture and Friday is portraiture and group shots.

Today I discovered that a) they have no idea how to properly hold a camera (damn digis with their stupid LCD screens!) and b) many of them can’t “see.” The former can be worked on while shooting—I must’ve said, “Hey! So-and-So! Face! Face!” 100 times today. The latter? I think they just need practice and more exposure to photography and art and age.

The first group of students today (four total) was my favorite. They lucked out a bit. We were out shooting at nine, which meant there was still dew on the grass and playground equipment, and nobody else was out! The other two classes had to compete with recess time, unfortunately. And since these classes are two-hour long sessions, some teachers are taking recess two or three times a day.

The first group came outside and sort of stared at me for a few minutes. I started pointing things out. “Look at those shadows.” “Hey, I found something cool, what is it?” “OK, how else could you take a photo of that?” “And what if you climb up there? Then what does it look like?” After about five minutes of this coaching, they were off and running and finding really neat things I hadn’t noticed.

I like that I’m teaching this class because I’m sort of getting a little creativity jolt myself. When I started Project 365, I did so to document Korea. Now that I’m back in the States, I’m just plain bored. The US is boring, the project is nearly over, and not many people even read that blog. Combine those factors and you get one woman who is seriously lacking motivation.

I brought my camera, and since I had my students choose their three favorite shots, I should choose mine, too.

Ladybug on a Tire
A student pointed this out, first class.

Child on a Swing
Second class, the focus could be better, but this was the best shot of twenty taken sitting on the ground in front of the student.

Third class, the students whined that there “is nothing behind the trailers.” We went back there and found lines, patterns, and S-curves.